You may not recognize the names, but you probably remember them.
Ariana Richards was Alexis Murphy in Jurassic Park (1993). She was the little blond hacker who got the computer systems back up and running in time to lock the door. Lisa Jakub was Alicia Casse, daughter of Russell Casse (Randy Quaid) in Independence Day (1996) and Lydia Hillard, the eldest daughter in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).
Remember them now?
I stumbled across Lisa Jakub recently while reading all the tributes and wonderful words about late actor and comedian Robin Williams. This world is a little less bright without his star in it. May he rest in peace in a place where there is no more suffering.
Lisa Jakub had posted her own experience working with Williams on Mrs. Doubtfire. It seems her school kicked her out when she missed too much time due to filming. This upset her and Williams noticed. He wrote a letter to her school which she gave to the principal. She wasn’t allowed to return to school but the letter was framed and hung in the principal’s office.
It wasn’t many years after that that Ms. Jakub exited Hollywood, stage right. She is now a writer with a book due out in 2015.
Occasionally while watching a movie I will pose that age-old query, “Whatever happened to that kid?” Such was the case while watching Jurassic Park a few years ago. Ariana Richards departed Hollywood to pursue another calling: to be an artist.
I salute both of these young women for walking away from all that glitz and glamour to make something more of their lives.
Take the words glitz and glamour with a grain of salt. I’ve seen the underbelly of Hollywood.
The film industry isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Sure, the viewing public gets to see the end result: the emotion, drama, action and comedy forever frozen in celluloid wonder.
What they don’t see is the drudgery behind making those films: the long hours, the back-stabbing, over-inflated egos…just like any other job.
And what most people don’t realize, or perhaps they don’t care to think about it, is that acting is just that: a job. And it’s a temporary job at that. Actors come together for a few months – or a few years if they are on a successful television series – to create entertainment for the masses. Then they all go their separate ways. Sometimes friendships are forged, sometimes not.
And we, the entertained masses, idolize the people in front of the camera without knowing who they really are. Some idolatry borders obsession and fanaticism.
I tried a stint in the film industry. Oh, no, not in front of the camera. Heaven forbid my less-than-society’s-stellar-beauty-standards mug should be on film. I wanted to be behind the camera, directing, bringing my own stories to film.
So I lived in Hollywood, California, only a block away from Hollywood Boulevard (I could see Frederick’s of Hollywood out my living room window) for a year and a half. The notorious street isn’t what you think it is. Unless you can look past the homeless person on each corner begging for a quarter; overlook the litter and detritus along the street; get past the traffic jams on Friday and Saturday nights; the fights, the drug deals in dark alleys, the young runaways in front of the convenience stores. It was a very sobering experience.
I walked away, too, realizing the written word was my first and only passion. I love movies but books have the real power for me.
It takes a great deal of courage to walk away from the siren song of Hollywood. Even more courage to be the person you are meant to be. Especially when that person goes against the expectations of the person others have for you to be. It takes a stamina, determination and backbone to pursue your dreams instead of the dreams of others.
No one knows that better than someone who has actually done it.
So, no, I don’t know these two young women personally. But I have an idea of what it took for each of them to say, “this is not who I am” and then to turn away and become who they are meant to be.
And it’s a good thing, too. I have read some of Lisa Jakub’s writing on her website and I’m impressed. I’m looking forward to her book next year. I have looked at the numerous exquisite paintings of Ariana Richards and long to be able to purchase several of them.
From what I have seen, I can honestly say they made the right choices.
And so did I.